The Official Blog of Graceland

Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm!

Step Up Your Selfie Game at Elvis Presley’s Graceland

When you visit a location as iconic as Elvis Presley’s Graceland, you have to take time to take the perfect selfie. After all, what’s better than having your photo made in front of the king’s castle, or with his gorgeous Pink Cadillac, or with his Gold Records? We love seeing the creative photos and selfies that guests have snapped at Graceland – in fact, we’ve dedicated several past blog posts (here and here) to the best shots taken here. But back in March, we opened up our new exhibit and entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis, which also opened up a new world for selfies. In this week’s blog, we’ll take a look at the best places to snap a selfie at Elvis Presley’s Memphis – and at Graceland, too, because there is no shortage of places to take a great photo at Elvis’ beloved mansion. As soon as you enter Elvis Presley’s Memphis, you’re greeted with our “Welcome to Graceland” sign. We love that this sign alone makes fans want to jump with joy!       Once inside Elvis Presley’s Memphis, there are a ton of great locations for a photo, especially in the new car museum, Presley Motors, or in Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, where you can find Elvis’ jumpsuits, awards, promotional photos, early albums and much more.           But of all of the wonderful places for a selfie at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, the most-photographed place is, hands down, a red, light-up ELVIS sign in Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. This sign brings out everyone’s inner rock star. Check out a few of these incredibly fun photos:           Elvis Presley’s Memphis is great, but you still have to take the perfect selfie at the king’s mansion across the street. Here are a few of our favorite recent selfies snapped at Graceland.             And finally, don’t forget to… We want to see YOUR photos next! Start planning your Graceland experience now – just go to Graceland.com to get your tickets, follow us on Instagram, and when you tag your perfect Graceland selfie, tag it with #Graceland – and you may see yourself on Graceland.com or on a future Graceland Blog post. Happy...
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Elvis Presley’s “Clambake” at 50

“You just said the magic word.” “’Clambake’?” “Yeah!” Elvis Presley’s colorful, swinging 60s romp “Clambake” was released 50 years ago this year. In the film, Elvis stars as Scott, the son of a millionaire who’s looking to make it on his own without his dad’s help. During a drive to Florida, Scott meets Tom (Will Hutchins), a waterskiing instructor, and the guys strike up a conversation. The guys decide to switch identities – Scott can find out if people will love him for who he is instead of his money, while Tom can live the high life as the son of a millionaire. It’s not long before Scott is tangled up in a love triangle between the beautiful Dianne (Shelley Fabares) and James J. Jamison III (Bill Bixby). Dianne has eyes for Jamison and his money, but Scott wants her for himself. As it often happens in Elvis movies, his character gets the girl in the end – after some songs, fights and, in this film, an exciting boat race. “Clambake” was Elvis’ 25th movie. Elvis began shooting “Clambake” in March 1967, although filming was delayed for about a month after Elvis fell and suffered a mild concussion. “Clambake” premiered in October 1967, but it wasn’t released nationally until November 22, 1967. The original title of the movie was “Too Big for Texas.”   While a lot of the movie was filmed in and around Miami, Elvis’ scenes were filmed in Los Angeles. A double was used for the scenes in Miami. Actual footage from the Orange Bowl International Power Boat Regatta was used for the film’s boat race. “Clambake” marks Shelley Fabares’ third and final Elvis film, having starred alongside Elvis in “Girl Happy” and “Spinout.” She also starred as Mary on “The Donna Reed Show.” Bill Bixby also starred in another Elvis film: “Speedway.” Bixby enjoyed roles on shows such as “My Favorite Martian” and “The Magician,” and he is best known for his role as Dr. David Banner on the CBS superhero show “The Incredible Hulk.” Another TV star appears in this movie: Flipper. Flipper the dolphin (whose real name was Susie), from the NBC show “Flipper,” has a cameo in “Clambake.” Tell us your favorite scenes and songs from “Clambake” in the comments! While some rock ‘n’ roll stars have made movies, no one did it quite like Elvis. Explore his movie career – as well as...
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Get an ‘A’ in Elvis – Trivia Game

Could you ace a class on the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll? Find out with our Elvis trivia game, and see if you can get an ‘A’ in Elvis. And don’t forget: to become an Elvis expert, you have to walk in his footsteps at Graceland. Make your plans to visit...
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The King’s New Clothes – Elvis Presley and Lansky Brothers

They say you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. A young Elvis Presley did just that, with the help of Lansky Brothers Men’s Clothing Store. Elvis began shopping at this Memphis store when he was still in high school. He wanted to be an entertainer, and he followed many of the city’s local entertainers into Lansky Brothers. It wasn’t long before Elvis was dressing just like the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll he always knew he’d be. Lansky Brothers Men’s Clothing Store began in 1946, when Samuel Lewis Lansky, a Russian immigrant, purchased a store at 126 Beale Street for $125. He bought the store for his sons, Bernard and Guy. The store that had previously inhabited that location sold women’s clothes, so the Lanskys tossed the women’s wear and opted to sell what was readily available – army surplus clothing, thanks to the end of World War II. Once that trend died down, the men found their true calling – selling fashion for men. Bernard and Guy often traveled to California and New York to check out and buy the latest styles, which caused a stir back home in Memphis – no one had seen such bold colors and patterns. As Bernard said, the store sold clothes in vibrant “Life Savers” colors, like red, orange, yellow, green and purple. The Lansky Brothers display windows were always a sight to see, full of flashy, eye-catching designs. The store became a hit with local entertainers, church groups and bands. The guys focused on selling quality clothes at a fair price – in fact, the store claimed it was “just around the corner from high prices.” Bernard Lansky first noticed a young Elvis Presley checking out the store’s window displays in the spring of 1952. He invited Elvis to come in and shop, but the young king declined, saying he didn’t have any money. As the story goes, Elvis told him, “When I get rich, I’ll buy you out,” and Bernard replied, “Do me a favor: Don’t buy me out, just buy from me.” Elvis made good on that deal. Soon, he returned to the store to buy a shirt for $3.95. When prom season arrived, Elvis asked the tailors at Lansky’s to create a unique suit for him – one with a pink coat, black pants and a pink and black cummerbund. The pink...
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Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 3

One of the most breathtaking sights at Elvis Presley’s Graceland is the wall of Gold, Diamond and Platinum Records hanging in the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. It’s an entire wall full of awards – and there are even more awards on the surrounding walls. This year on the Graceland Blog, we’re celebrating Elvis’ Number 1 hits. Check out part one and part two, and now, here’s part three. “Hound Dog” You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog Cryin’ all the time Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit you ain’t no friend of mine Originally, this song was performed by a woman, as she told off her “hound dog” of a man. This song, however, was written by two men – Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber. They penned the tune for blues artist Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, whose 1953 original landed at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in the US. Rufus Thomas recorded “Bear Cat,” an “answer song” written by Sam Phillips, also in 1953. Freddie and the Bellhops recorded a male-perspective version of “Hound Dog” in 1955, and the group performed it in 1956 in Las Vegas. Elvis caught one of the group’s performances and loved their version; soon, he was also performing it live. Elvis recorded “Hound Dog” on July 2, 1956, at RCA Studios in New York, just one day after singing the tune to a Basset Hound on the Steve Allen Show. “Hound Dog” was recorded at the same session just prior to “Don’t Be Cruel,” so all of the same musicians were present, except Shorty Long, who was running late. Gordon Stoker filled in for him on piano. The Jordanaires provided background vocals and the clapping. (Learn more about “Don’t Be Cruel” from part 1 of this series.) It proved difficult to capture the excitement of Elvis’ live “Hound Dog” performances, and it took 31 takes for Elvis to be truly happy with the recording. “Hound Dog,” with “Don’t Be Cruel,” arrived in stores a few weeks after they were recorded. The two tracks were equally popular and fought for the top spot on the charts. “Hound Dog” has been covered numerous times by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimi Hendrix (look out for artifacts from the legend in the new Icons exhibit at Graceland), James Taylor, Little Richard and many more. “Good Luck Charm” Come on and be...
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Animal Instinct: Elvis Presley’s Pets

In “Tiger Man,” Elvis Presley sings that he’s the “king of the jungle” – and that’s a pretty accurate description of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Elvis loved animals of all kinds. He had many pets during his lifetime – so many, in fact, that it would be a pretty difficult to name them all. We’ll stick to a few of the favorites for this week’s blog. When Elvis purchased Graceland in 1957, he bought not only the house, but 13.8 acres of the surrounding land. That provided for a nice little farm for the Presley family. Elvis’ mother, Gladys, had some chickens, and Elvis owned a turkey named Bowtie. Vernon, Elvis’ father, raised hogs, and he smoked and cured pork in the old pump house that Elvis, years later, would turn into a temporary makeshift firing range (you can tour this building at Graceland). Elvis was given some donkeys, but because the fence around the property wasn’t finished yet, he kept the donkeys in his new, empty swimming pool. The Presley family added even more animals to their farm when Elvis, Vernon and friend Lamar Fike drove a limousine to Germantown, just outside of Memphis, to buy more chickens and ducks. Lamar sat in the back of the limo with the birds to try to control them, but they flew around and made a mess. They cleaned and fumigated the limo, but it was never the same, and the vehicle was eventually replaced. And speaking of birds, Elvis once had a mynah bird that would repeat the excuses it heard about why Elvis couldn’t come to the phone: “Elvis is asleep,” “Elvis isn’t available,” “Elvis isn’t here.” One day the bird began repeating all of the phrases, over and over, which Elvis thought was hilarious. Australian fans sent Elvis a wallaby – twice. Once was while he was filming “Jailhouse Rock” in 1957, and the second time was in 1962. He donated each of the animals to the Memphis Zoo. Elvis also had a few peacocks, but they scratched at their reflections in the shiny paint of his cars – so they, too, went to live at the Memphis Zoo. Elvis owned several horses throughout this lifetime – in fact, you can read more about them here on a past Graceland Blog post. His favorite horses included Rising Sun, a golden palomino quarter horse and a Tennessee Walking Horses named Bear. A...
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Elvis Presley, the Student

Get your No. 2 pencils out – it’s back to school season. The stores are full of supplies and school bells are ringing, and surely, Elvis fans everywhere are wondering: what was Elvis like as a student? Elvis is often described, especially in high school, as a “fair” student, earning a lot of B’s and a few C’s. He graduated high school in 1953, not long before his incredible career took off. But of course, Elvis’ school years began in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he was born. He began first grade in the fall of 1941 at East Tupelo Consolidated School on Lake Street. Elvis continued his elementary school years in Tupelo, mostly uneventful, until the fifth grade. October 3, 1945, was Children’s Day at the Mississippi-Alabama State Fair, and all of the schools were let out for the day. Elvis’ fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Oleta Grimes, entered Elvis into the fair’s talent show after hearing him sing in the morning prayer program at school. He sang “Old Shep” with no accompaniment. He won fifth place, and the prize was a few dollars worth of ride tickets. Elvis would later recall that his mother, Gladys, gave him a spanking that day too, probably for riding the more dangerous rides and giving her a scare. Elvis entered sixth grade at Milam Junior High School, which is still there, in Tupelo, in September 1946. His classmates remembered Elvis as a shy boy who didn’t fit in very well, but that he loved music. He often sang gospel favorites and songs he learned from listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. Gladys bought Elvis his first guitar in 1946, and by the time Elvis entered the seventh grade at Milam, he was bringing that guitar to school with him most every day. He’d play during recess and lunch time for his classmates. His classmates were mostly indifferent to his performances – and a few were even hostile. During Elvis’ eighth grade year at Milam, a group of bullies cut his guitar strings. Elvis’ classmates knew how much Elvis loved his guitar, and some of them took up a collection to buy him another set of strings. A few months later, the Presley family moved to Memphis, where Elvis was enrolled in the eighth grade at Humes High School. Vernon later recalled that Elvis looked very nervous as he walked his son to the...
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Elvis Presley Takes Care of Business

Long before he was the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, long before he was a millionaire, Elvis Presley was a working stiff like the rest of us. It’s hard to imagine Elvis – studded jumpsuit Elvis, rock ‘n’ rolling ’68 Special Elvis, movie star Elvis or gold lame Elvis – working a 9 to 5, but a young Elvis had to make a living. This Labor Day weekend, let’s take a peek at how Elvis took care of business long before he came to wear those TCB necklaces. Elvis took the entrepreneurial route for his first job. In his freshman year of high school, he teamed up with three friends, Buzzy Forbes, Paul Dougher and Farley Guy, to start a lawn business. With a push lawn mower that his father, Vernon, purchased for him, and a few sickles, Elvis and his team mowed yards at the cost of $4.00 per yard. Elvis’ next job title was movie theater usher. He began working at Loew’s State Theater on Main Street in Memphis in September 1950. The next summer, Elvis worked at Precision Tool. He worked there for three months and he operated a spindle drill press at the plant, which manufactured rocket shells for the military. Elvis earned $27.00 a week. In this same year, 1951, Elvis took his driver’s license test using his uncle Travis Smith’s 1940 Buick. Elvis returned to work at Loew’s State Theater as an usher in April 1952. His second stint there only lasted five weeks – he was fired due to a fight with a fellow usher. Rumor has it, the other usher started the argument because he was jealous that a female co-worker had the hots for Elvis. Elvis may have lost that job, but soon after, he got a car. Vernon purchased an old Lincoln, which became Elvis’. In August 1952, Elvis applied to work at Upholsterers Specialties Company. He actually fibbed on his application, giving his birthdate as January 8, 1934 – making him one year older and, therefore, old enough to work there. He only worked there a month, earning $109.00. In September, Elvis began working as an assembler at a furniture manufacturer, MARL Metal Products. His hours were 3:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., which didn’t fit in well with his school schedule. His mother, Gladys, made him quit the job after she learned he was falling asleep in class....
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Elvis Week 2017 – That’s a Wrap

By Jon Waterhouse It’s time to pack the blue suede shoes back in the suitcase and slip the jumpsuit in the garment bag. I can imagine the director of an Elvis movie shouting after shooting the final scene, “That’s a wrap!” Similar to a motion picture, all of the fantastic scenes of Elvis Week 2017 linked together to create something massive and magical. As the projector in my mind replays the events of the past nine days, I smile recollecting some of my favorite experiences. The Live Interviews This year arguably had the largest special guest list in Elvis Week history. Elvis’ friends, family, co-stars, musical collaborators, and others participated in live interviews, often with unexpected moments. The highlights are way too numerous mention. Some include Priscilla Presley and Jerry Schilling giving behind-the-curtain recollections; the king’s martial arts trainer, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, karate kicking onstage; and rockabilly queen, Wanda Jackson, telling the story of how Elvis taught her to rock. The Fans Elvis fan interaction and the shared communal experience may just be my favorite aspect of Elvis Week. That instant bond and understanding among fans impresses me to no end. Hugs and handshakes from familiar faces I’ve met in years past came daily. And newfound friends from throughout and the world —Australia, Japan, Qatar, the UK and elsewhere— add to my personal, ever-growing list. The Gospel Concert More than any genre, gospel gave Elvis peace in his own personal valley. So, Elvis Week gospel shows always have extra significance. The fact this performance featured guys who actually crooned alongside the king —Terry Blackwood, Bill Baize, Larry Strickland, and Donnie Sumner— made it priceless. And Donnie, if you’re reading, you need to take the comedy act on the road. Seriously funny. Elvis Presley’s Memphis This new 40-acre entertainment complex brings fans closer to Elvis than ever. Jaw-dropping exhibits, many featuring 360-degree views of stage wear, automobiles, and more, provide amazing perspective. With a live entertainment venue, a pair of full-service restaurants, and gift shops, Graceland visitors can easily spend a full day exploring Elvis Presley’s Memphis. The Guest House at Graceland Memphis’ largest hotel project in nearly 100 years opened its doors last fall, and it served as a hospitality hub for Elvis Week 2017. With an exterior inspired by the Colonial Revival style of the Graceland mansion, the hotel interior boasts 450 rooms, a pair of restaurants, a...
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Elvis Week Day 8 – A Graceland Wedding and Ultimate Advice

By Jon Waterhouse For the first time in my life, I’m a best man in a wedding. A best man for a groom I have never met. At the altar inside Graceland’s Wedding Chapel in the Woods —it’s located behind the Elvis Presley Enterprises corporate office and next door to Graceland— I stand next to Berend Peters. He and his girlfriend of 12 years, Naomi Quijs, traveled all the way from the Netherlands to tie the knot on Elvis’ property. In an effort to have a better understanding of the Graceland wedding experience, I asked the couple if I could participate in the ceremony. Surprisingly, they obliged, and I broke out my best Lansky Bros. jacket for the occasion. Awaiting his bride to walk the aisle, Berend looks calm and cool in his rockabilly hipster wedding duds. His short sleeve shirt reveals a mass of tattoos, including an Elvis portrait and the label of Elvis’ first Sun single, “That’s All Right.” “Are you nervous?” I ask. His shakes his head “no.” Struggling with his English, Berend does his best to explain this is he and Naomi’s third trip to Elvis Week, and Graceland means a great deal to them both. Others couples certainly feel the same. Savannah Faircloth, one of Graceland’s special events facilitators, says 20 weddings have been scheduled throughout Elvis Week 2017. Pairs from the UK, Australia, Japan, Canada, and elsewhere have or will do the deed at Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods. And Elvis Week 2017 marks the first time a Chilean couple have exchanged vows at the chapel. Faircloth said Graceland has been in the wedding biz since 2000 and hosts approximately 125 weddings annually. Depending on the price, the all-inclusive package can range from simple to all-out extravagant. A couple can have a basic ceremony in the intimate chapel with a photographer and a faux cake for photo ops. Or they can shoot the moon with various add-on options including a catered reception in the Presley Motors car museum. Sometimes celebrities from Elvis world drop in as surprise guests. During an Elvis Week 2017 wedding, Elvis’ bodyguard Dick Grob crashed a ceremony. “It’s kind of a one-stop shop,” Faircloth said. “We do everything for the brides; everything from booking the vendors to bustling them up in their dresses. We help them with anything they need. So it’s a stress-free experience where you can enjoy...
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